Written By: Charlie Hester
On Saturday the 28th of September, Melbourne-based trans poet, author and philosopher, Quinn Eades brought his ‘Writing the Body’ workshop to the Queensland Writers Centre. While Quinn’s vast theoretical knowledge was evident throughout the workshop, what was most impressive was his ability to speak personably about these theories and with clarity, to break them apart, reconstruct them, and bring them to life. Quinn encouraged us to perform what he coins, Écriture Matière, which translates to ‘material writing’. This idea is an extension of Hélène Cixous’s Écriture Féminine, a feminist theory from the 1970s that called for women to bring their own bodies into literature, especially through experimental forms of writing. With Écriture Matière, Quinn instead calls for ‘all bodies to write themselves’.
Throughout the day, I had the chance to engage in a number of writing activities, including writing to photographs and music. The group explored the power of sound and visuals to open possibilities for new perspectives, ideas and moods in our writing, but also as a means of simply bringing playfulness into our writing practice.
Quinn talked about the variety of ways we can write trauma with the concept of ‘writing the body’ never far from mind. With Quinn, we considered a diversity of perspectives to write from, ranging from the individual who experiences trauma, to a community that experience trauma, to the witness who observes trauma. I learned that trauma is never necessarily ‘finished’ or able to be fit into a cohesive narrative, and Quinn stressed how our writing can reflect this, and that there are many ways and modes in which to tell these stories. For example, I was introduced to the concept of ‘fragmentation’; a loose writing style that uses poetic language and form to represent the fragmented, incomplete and often disjointed nature of trauma. This, alongside many other writing techniques, was discussed as a way to write past the limits of language.
Of course, using these theories and techniques with our own ideas and stories also takes skill. So, Quinn suggested a number of his personal favourite productivity techniques (or ‘writing hacks’). He mentioned the Pomodoro technique and attending writers’ groups where you can meet and share ideas with people outside of your usual circles (a la QWC’s Writing Friday!), and the notion of being a ‘life writer’ and bringing your lived experiences to your next writing session. My personal favourite ‘hack’ was the idea of overcoming writer’s block by leaving sentences unfinished – a way to naturally kick your brain back into gear – I’ve already started putting this one to good use (possibly even in the composition of this blog post!) and it has worked wonders so far.
Overall the workshop was a highly valuable experience. It was a great opportunity for me to engage in the open and inclusive dialogue with Quinn, to greatly further my knowledge of literary theories, and simply have a great day in the company of other passionate writers looking to broaden their minds and develop their craft in new and exciting ways.